Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | September 19, 2012
I happened upon a tattered copy of the 1968 Angler's Guide published by the Maryland Department of Game & Inland Fish - 18 three by six-inch pages of regulatory info for the freshwater fisherman. There was no Department of Natural Resources at that time. DNR would launch a year later as the Free State's principal conservation agency.
In 1968, a fishing license cost $3.00. The trout stamp was a dollar, and there was no Maryland tidal fishing license. The need for a conservation commitment was nonetheless evident in the Pledge printed on page 16 just after the spearfishing rules and before a list of 16 public launch ramps. Since then, the DNR Waterway Improvement Fund has financed over 4,500 grant projects valued at $300 million to develop and maintain more than 400 public boating access sites throughout Maryland:
The Conservation Pledge "I give my pledge as an American to save, and faithfully to defend from waste, the natural resources of my country - its soil and minerals, its forests, waters and wildlife." In Our Schools - In All Assemblies of Americans - Let This Pledge Ring Out!"
I'm regularly reminded these days by my young daughter, her friends and the barefooted boys and girls who cast from the rocks and check crab pots around the neighborhood, that the need for a conservation pledge remains. These kids want and deserve to be able to continue to enjoy the excellent outdoor opportunities that we have right now, such as:
There is excellent trout fishing in western Maryland, where cool temperatures are adding oxygen and energy to the water and the fish. Our experts recommend terrestrial patterns (crickets and hoppers) this time of year. The catch & release section of the Youghiogheny River has been fishing well, evident by the 17 inch rainbow caught by Don Cosden over the Labor Day break.
Don Cosden and a 17-inch Youghiogheny rainbow. Photo by Al Klotz
Youth angler Devin Angleberger from Frederick swears by the Trout Magnet lure, and I wouldn't bet against him based on the photographic proof in his regular posts to the DNR Angler's Log. Fly anglers turn to black or olive wooly buggers when they simply must catch a fish. Otherwise, an Adams parachute will provide the dry-fly challenge, visual stimulation and tight line you are casting for.
Night fishing for channel cats in the Youghiogheny River remains good. Using chicken livers in shallow water pretty much guarantees steady action. I mean, who other than my daughter doesn't like chicken livers?
Walleye fishing in Deep Creek Lake remains best at night using crankbaits, grubs and leeches in deep water over submerged vegetation.
Deep Creek Lake northern pike go for live shiners hooked in the lip.
Smallmouth bass in the Upper Potomac downstream of Brunswick are worth the effort. These may be the toughest fighting fish, ounce-for-ounce in Maryland. On Monday, lead scientists and biologists from DNR Inland Fisheries Division and the DNR Resource Assessment Service joined renowned Maryland angler Lefty Kreh for a float down the river to compare current and historical smallmouth bass population data with the remarkable memories of this legend from his 70 years of fishing that stretch of water.
Lefty Kreh shows how it's done on the Upper Potomac. Photo by Joe Evans
We entered the river under a bright blue sky, which highlighted the crystal green-tinted water made clear by the great meadows of blooming star grass. While these conditions are beautiful to see, it doesn't make fishing so easy since the fish have great options and reasons to hide and hold deep in the holes under the grass mats and the rock ledges. As the light fog lifted from the river valley, a steady hatch of cream-colored Trico mayflies rose from the surface to mix with swirls of pale blue damselflies. An immature eagle circled above. Otherwise, we had the river entirely to ourselves for the six-mile drift to Point of Rocks.
While Lefty remained true to his fly rod and poured out sharp recollections of the hot spots and the good times in the 1950s when a everyday duffer with a bamboo rod could catch 150 fish in a day, DNR biologist John Mullican quietly accumulated proof of a pretty good fishery with a count 30 smallies caught on dark plastic worms rigged wacky style. I was along to serve as a shuttle/chuffeur/ paddler and had some stray luck dragging a fluffy Lefty-designed muddler/streamer fly through the shadows of the stream bank tree canopy.
Lefty's Potomac Smallie Fly. Photo by Joe Evans
Largemouth bass fishing in the Tidal Potomac River and Upper Bay remains a top-water activity over grass beds in low light-early and late in the day. Spinner and chatter baits are good choices around hard structure. The average water temperature has fallen into the mid 70s, good for surface and shallow water action.
The reports of robust white perch fishing in the tributaries are reliable and enthusiastic. Jim Rivers, the Annapolis perch doctor, has been seen reeling in chunky whites from the rocks at Bay Ridge and off the Naval Academy wall. Similar accounts of steady perch pulling in the Wye River, Miles, Magothy, Patapsco and you-name-it have piled up in email and text message logs. Young anglers who dangle Fish-Bite or Powerbait lures off of the dock will score if they are keen to the discreet feel of the bite. Anglers who prefer to drift and cast into the rocks, stumps, and grass beds will have fun using Beetlespin and RoosterTail lures.
And, get this! In many of these places you can expect to hook juvenile redfish using the same baits and techniques. The high salinity and relatively favorable water quality of this dry summer and other unidentified factors have brought the Upper Bay an unusual influx of these young drum fish. Anglers are catching them as far north as the Patapsco. You may keep one a day in the 18-inch to 27-inch slot.
Jimmy Whipple and his South River redfish. Photo courtesy of Jimmy Whipple
The big stripers have returned right on time after our summer of steady action on countless yearling rockfish. Snapper bluefish and young stripers continue to frantically attack schools of bay anchovies along the current breaks and lumps where they have provided dependable entertainment for the past four months. Now, top anglers are beginning to pick up keeper sized fish in the fray, particularly when fishing jigs under the surface blitzes. Half-ounce jig heads rigged with juicy Bass Kandy Delights or similar soft plastic tails are the ticket for getting down to the big fish. If the bluefish are marauding, skip the soft plastics and go with a metal jig as the blues will simply bite off the tails in an evil scheme to disappoint you and deplete your fishing lure budget. Just about anything you can throw will work for the surface action underneath the circling seagulls. Likely spots include the mouth of the Choptank and Chester Rivers as well as Eastern Bay, Poplar Island, Hackett's Point and the Bay Bridges.
Run & gun anglers with quick boats are hunting Spanish mackerel as far north as the Belvidere Shoals. The birds will show you the way. A bright spoon retrieved or trolled quickly will give you your best chance.
Down-de-Ocean, the flounder continue to bite. Use a short, six-and a half-foot casting rod with a sensitive tip and a level-wind bait casting reel spun with 20- to 30-pound braided line. Tie a three way swivel on your leader and hang a sinker from one eye with about nine inches of monofilament and a shrimp or a minnow from the other eye with 18-inches of mono. If you are using a shiner, hook it through the eyes. If it's a minnow, hook it through the lips. Let it bump along a sandy bottom, and pay attention for the subtle take that is a flounder sucking in the bait.
Offshore, the blue water action over the Washington and Norfolk canyons continues to reinforce why Ocean City is called the white Marlin Capital of the World. Offshore anglers have reported more than 80 caught and released whites since our last report.
In developing fishing news - it appears that Maryland could soon have a new Chesapeake Bay sheepshead record with a 13.3-pound fish caught on Sunday at Kedge's Straits just south of South Marsh Island by Dan Thomas of Delmar, MD. Some essential paperwork remains before the record is certified and etched in the history book. Meanwhile, here's a photo of the angler and his fish.
It's a great time to be an angler in Maryland.
Dan Thomas and his 13.3-pound sheephead. Photo courtesy of Dan Thomas